How to Fix the Windows 10 Start Menu if it’s Frozen

When Windows 10 works, it’s a great operating system. When it doesn’t, it causes many inconveniences and lots of frustration. Among Microsoft’s pile of peculiarities is its talent for throwing up brain-scratching bugs. One of these bugs is the Start menu freezing.

The good news is that there are a few solutions to a freezing Start Menu in Windows 10. Some are easy; others are trickier. You can try the top four fixes below, from merely shutting down programs to tinkering with Microsoft’s Windows Media Creation Tool. Here are the details.

Solution #1: Check for Corrupt Files

Many problems with Windows come down to corrupt files, and Start menu issues are no exception. To fix this, launch the Task Manager either by right-clicking on the taskbar and selecting Task Manager, or hitting ‘Ctrl+Alt+Delete.’

  1. Type “PowerShell” into the Cortana/Search box. Make sure you select the option to run this task with administrator privileges.
  2. Type “sfc /scannow” without quotes and hit “Enter.” Take note of the space between “sfc” and “/scannow.”
  3. To fix any errors if you see “Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files but was unable to fix some (or all) of them,” type “DISM /Online /Cleanup-Image /RestoreHealth.” You’ll need to be online, as Windows will download clean versions of corrupted files and replace them. If you see “Windows Resource Protection found corrupt files and successfully repaired them,” you are all set.

If the above solution doesn’t fix your Windows 10 Start menu freeze-up issues, move on to the next option.

Solution #2: Kill File Explorer/Windows Explorer

how_to_fix_windows_10_start_menu_-_kill_explorer

Killing Windows Explorer is a quick-and-dirty fix that may come in handy for various situations, such as when you have non-responsive windows or sporadic issues on the Windows desktop. The process is not guaranteed to work, but has saved many Windows users from reinstalling their Windows 10 OS. Here’s how to kill the Windows Explorer process.

  1. Open Task Manager by right-clicking on Windows 10 Start Menu icon and selecting “Task Manager” from the menu, or hold down “Ctrl+Shift+Escape.”
  2. Scroll through the “Processes” tab until you find “Windows Explorer.” If Windows Explorer is already open, you’ll see another entry with a dropdown option, as shown below. Ignore that entry and choose the one without a dropdown.
  3. Right-click on the process and select “Restart” from the menu.

If restarting Windows Explorer does not solve your freezing Start Menu problem, move on to Solution #3.

Solution #3: Rebuild the Index

how_to_fix_windows_10_start_menu_-_rebuild_index

Indexing is the process of inspecting files, emails, and other types of content within your Windows 10 OS. The method also involves cataloging essential data, such as words, file locations, metadata, etc. If you perform a keyword search in Windows Explorer, you are using the indexing process that reviews all stored data to match your search criteria. The index of data helps speed up the search process significantly. Here’s how to rebuild the Windows 10 index.

  1. Hold down the “Windows Key+R” to open the “Run” window or right-click the “Start Menu” and select “Run.”
  2. Type in the following without the quotes or ending period: “control /name Microsoft.IndexingOptions.”
  3. Click “Modify” on the bottom left of the Indexing Options window.
  4. Click the “Show all locations” button.
  5. Uncheck all the currently ticked locations and select “OK.”
  6. Now click “Advanced,” then click “Rebuild” in the Troubleshooting section. A message will pop up, saying that this may take some time. Click OK.
  7. Once the rebuild is complete, hold down “Windows Key+R” to open the “Run” window again. Now type in “shutdown /r” without quote marks to restart your machine.

If rebuilding the Windows 10 index hasn’t fixed your reluctant Windows 10 Start Menu lockup, it’s time to create some media.

Solution #4: Use the Media Creation Tool

There are several fixes to the Windows 10 Start menu issue, but the Media Creation Tool is the only method widely reported to solve the freezing Start Menu problem. So, if you’ve already made the mistake of embarking on some long-winded fix on a random internet forum that didn’t work, then give this a try.

The bad news: This process involves downloading Microsoft’s Windows Media Creation Tool and creating Windows 10 installation media on a DVD or USB storage device. And it also requires you to reinstall Windows over your existing OS.

The good news: While using the Media Creation Tool is a bit long-winded, it’s the most likely method to fix your issue. The tool won’t delete your existing files when used as directed, although it is worth backing up anything important. If anything does go wrong, you’ll have to perform a clean install of Windows 10 and restore your data from a backup. Here’s how to use the Windows 10 Media Creation Tool.

  1. Go to Microsoft’s Media Creation Tool site and download the Media Creation Tool.
  2. Create a system installation disk using the Windows Media Creation Tool.
  3. Run Setup.exe from the media you’ve created.

Note: When you go through the menus for the installation above, make sure to click “Keep files and applications.” This step ensures that the installation process will update and replace the necessary files and preserve your data and applications. However, it generally won’t keep installed programs.

In closing, if none of these fixes stop the Windows 10 Start Menu from freezing or locking up, back up all your data and start a new Windows 10 installation from scratch. Unless your PC or laptop is excruciatingly old and slow, a full reinstallation should not take long. Just make sure you have your Windows 10 product key on hand! If you have a fast USB thumb drive or external SSD, installing Windows from there is your best bet—you’ll be done in a half-hour or so.

17 thoughts on “How to Fix the Windows 10 Start Menu if it’s Frozen”

Avatar Jamayca says:
I love it. Thank you so much. It’s so much a help.
Avatar Luke says:
solution #2 worked for me every single time, thank you very much !
Avatar Jon Haben says:
Solutions 1, 2, and 3 did not work for me, and I was about to do solution 4 but then I realized that if I hovered over the top edge of the Windows icon for the Start Menu, the sizing arrow appeared and I just clicked and dragged the start menu up from the task bar. After the Start Menu was visible again I could not drag it back down below a certain height and I am still not sure how it became minimized in the first place. This problem persisted after restarting, updating and restarting, and going through these solutions here, but all I had to do was click it and drag the edge of the Start menu window up. Wow.
Steve Larner Steve Larner says:
My Start Menu minimized after an update. I had to right-click the taskbar and turn off the auto-hide feature.
Avatar Killer Dj Rasky says:
Thank you very much..
Solution 4 works 💯
God bless you
Avatar Debora says:
Thank you so much! Great tutorial.
Avatar Erick says:
Power shell option got stuck on 62.3%, the indexing as well got stuck. I think i might have a different issue
Avatar Dick D says:
Kill Explorer in Task Manager worked
Avatar James says:
Solution #2 Worked. Thank you !!
Avatar ChiZen says:
Kill Explorer worked. Thanks!!
Avatar Mary Tee says:
Thanks so much! The “Kill Explorer” option worked for me.
Avatar Mousey says:
Just an FYI. I typed sfc /scannow the way it was displayed in this article and it didn’t work for me. I typed sfc only to see the list of commands and then typed it the way it was displayed in the command list in caps. That worked for me. Just posting in case anyone else had problems with it. Thanks!
Avatar Kevin says:
The “Rebuild Index” worked! But things changed – down the left hand side all apps were listed in alphabetical order, but I can get to the list by clicking on an icon above. I also have to find things that were pinned to “Start” and repin them. Just things I need and will get used to. Thanks for your help!
Avatar Gonzalo says:
I’m having this issue with the last solution. I tried to reinstall windows, but when I start the installation and wait like 20 minutes, I get a message telling me that windows installation failed.
Avatar Ken Tomono says:
I have tried all above fix for multiple times spending hours, still as soon as click the start button, the error message direct to sign out and the windows pretends to repair. On top of that this HP laptop has built in HP diagnostic and repair software, I tried it, it only shows there is any recognizable problem per auto chat line answers.
I have been using this laptop for 5 years when I had a another Toshiba laptop in repair, the neighborhood repair shop could not repair after some $400 (pretty much like the renovation with the wrong contractor gone wrong) and I had to fix myself.
Do I have to bring to the Microsoft repair?
Avatar sami says:
Thanks
Avatar Warren says:
Thank you so much. Most of the morning, but re-indexing finally worked. It reminded me of my old MS-DOS days.
Avatar Rojo says:
Wow, what an amazing tutorial. When through several other articles, one of them even written by a Windows 10 developer, and none of them helped. Thank you so much

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